2018 Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot

  • 2018


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Tasting Notes

A burgundy shade of red commence this wine. Aromas of black plum and black cherry combine with graphite, milk chocolate, and black pepper with a subtle thread of vanilla from the toasted oak. This is a generous merlot with nice freshness on the palate show casing juicy blackberry and toasted oak. There is a cocoa powder texture with smooth tannins and a long finish.

Technical Note


The 2018 growing season started with a relatively mild winter and spring. There was decent rain in early and mid-January, almost none in February, and a fair amount in March and April which filled our lakes and kicked off the growing season. July was warm and August saw markedly cooler temperatures absent of heat spikes, followed by ideal weather in September and October. There was a little rain in early October, but warm weather and dry breezes followed, allowing the grapes to hang on the vines longer and further develop their flavors. Harvest continued through November because of the ideal weather enabling the fruit to stay on the vine with no pressure from Mother Nature. The quality of the fruit was terrific, and the resulting wines show tremendous promise.

The fruit was hand-harvested in the cool morning hours and brought to the winery in half-ton bins. Clusters were sorted using a double sorting system: first, the clusters were sorted by hand then the individual berries were sorted to ensure that only the ideal grapes were chosen. These grapes were delivered to a fermenter for a period of resting on skins. Warm fermentation temperatures were encouraged along with gentle cap maceration to achieve the desired color and structure before an extended maceration time on skins prior to final pressing. The wine was transferred directly to barrel where it aged for 19 months. Sixty-five percent of the berries used in this blend were fermented then aged in French Oak barrels for added layers of complexity.

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94 Points, James Suckling – “This is always an excellent merlot with blackberry, chocolate and hazelnut character. It’s full and tight with balance and freshness. Shows verve and brightness. Drink now or hold.” – James Suckling, June 2021

94 Points, The Tasting Panel – “Ripe plum and cinnamon bark, crushed stone, and a dollop of white pepper just starts to describe this intensely deep and ripe red. Luscious dark cherry usurps the palate with pleasure, storming forward in a plush, yet mighty, mouthfeel.” – Meredith May, March 2022

92 Points, Jeb Dunnuck – Including 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and small amounts of other varieties, the 2018 Merlot Rutherford Estate Vineyard reveals a deep purple hue to go with impressive purity in its cassis and mulberry fruits as well as notes of chocolate, cedary herbs, and tobacco. It shows the vintage’s pure, elegant style yet has terrific concentration, ripe tannins, a good spine of acidity, and a great finish.

90 Points, Wine Spectator – Lithe and juicy, with notes of hot stone to the dried raspberry and cherry pastry flavors. The well-spiced finish shows a minerally verve.

“Rich, chocolatey aromas of hoisin sauce and spiced blackberry liqueur are complicated by kirsch and cinnamon on the palate, as well as a flash of star anise and baker’s chocolate. The acidity here is perfectly threaded, and the minerality and hint of dried scrubby herbs of the finish, joined by more of that kirsch, is fantastic.” – Food & Wine, August 2023

Best In Show – 2023 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience International Wine Competition


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